Physician Sentiment Index shows confusion, grim outlook, EHRs failing and independent docs struggling

Aug. 19, 2013

WATERTOWN, MA — August 12, 2013 — athenahealth Inc. (NASDAQ: ATHN), a leading provider of cloud-based services for electronic health record (EHR), practice management and care coordination, recently announced results from its fourth annual Physician Sentiment Index (PSI), which each year checks the pulse of a national pool of physicians to see how they’re feeling about navigating various industry changes and challenges.

Leveraging the Epocrates’ physician user base, athenahealth deployed a survey to 1,200 providers seeking information on physician awareness and opinions of health care and health IT. The results of the 2013 PSI surface a range of findings and some notable themes:

Doctors Who Go it Alone are Hurting the Most – Independent doctors, who account for just over half of the physicians surveyed, are feeling the most pressure when it comes to industry change and requirements. In fact, 78 percent of all physicians surveyed said they are not optimistic about independent/small groups surviving. Independent physicians are more skeptical of the positive impact that EHRs have on patient care, a PSI trend that has gained momentum since 2010. Also, with the Affordable Care Act fueling the rise of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and other models that incent physicians and hospitals to reduce the cost of care, independent physicians remain skeptical of the benefits for them and their patients.

The Industry’s Shift to Accountable Care Models Has Physicians Concerned –While many physicians believe that shifting reimbursement models, away from fee-for-service, will positively impact the quality of care, there are concerns that it won’t come easy or cheap. Findings show that the majority of physicians surveyed believe these models will:
•    Positively impact quality of care
•    Negatively impact profits
•    Create more burden to get paid
In addition to overall concern, the PSI also exposed a general sense of unfamiliarity with the Accountable Care model among physicians. Nearly 75 percent of physicians surveyed have either only “heard of” or are “somewhat familiar with” an ACO, and 26 percent of physicians responded that they “don’t know” if they are participating in any “pay-for-performance” programs.

Physicians’ Outlook on the Future of Health Care is Grim
•    More than 60 percent of providers believe the current health care climate is somewhat-to-very detrimental to care—a consistenttrend over the past four years of the PSI survey
•    Nearly 60 percent of providers think the quality of medicine will decline over next five years
•    More than 50 percent of providers do not believe government’s involvement in health care will lower costs or improve outcomes

“Doctors are besieged by change and requirements and it’s incredibly difficult for them to keep up. The findings of the 2013 Physician Sentiment Indexsend up a number of warning signals. As an industry and country, we need to pay attention to the fact that doctors are overwhelmed and challenged in areas they shouldn’t be,” said Todd Rothenhaus, MD and CMO of athenahealth. “Physicians lack the time and, in too many cases, the resources to thrive through change. They need better support and need to know there are tools and services to remove the ‘busy’ work, so they can focus on patient care.”

Learn more about athenahealth’s PSI: download the entire 2013 Physician Sentiment Index survey and results, andexplore the PSI infographic, at:

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